Friday, March 29, 2013

A local fight

Fair warning, this post wanders a bit off my usual topics, but I still see a life lesson and spiritual implications here.  I promise to try to not burden you regularly with local problems, but I think this fits very well with the idea of community building that I've been doing for a while.  Stick with me, please?

A church here in Walnut Creek has tried to pull a sneaky maneuver on the local community- for nearly two years, they have been in talks with Verizon Wireless to build an enormous cell tower in a beautiful neighborhood.  The neighbors, who will be forced to live with the 70 foot tall tower, are understandably upset.  They have only until April 15 to convince the county to kill the proposal.

My husband and I don't live in that neighborhood, but we dream of it, our kids already go to school nearby, and the neighborhood is a mix of charming older homes (there's a few new ones), trees, hedges (some of these people have rosebushes taller than me that weep with flowers in summer), wildlife (deer and turkeys along with coyotes, song birds, squirrels, and even skunks , and winding roads.  A cell tower, even one disguised as a tree, would be any eyesore, but worse, the radiation it will produce could be harmful. (Our kids school is very close).  We object to the secrecy of the proposal. We object to the possibility of harming people and wildlife, and we really, really object to greed non-profits that already enjoy tax exempt status hurting other people's prosperity (according to the news, the congregation of this church is 60 people, but the adjacent properties number at 22- properties not people).

Cellphones have not been established as safe, they fall into the category of things that scientists suspect might be okay in moderation, but can't conclusively endorse them.  We don't really know how long term exposure from birth to the grave will affect human development, and there is some evidence that says we should be cautious.  Worse, there is evidence to support the idea that same radiation may be harmful to wildlife (India is looking to regulate cell towers to better protect the public and environment).  We, people, aren't the only inhabitants of this patch of Earth, and we should always be mindful of that.  As with all things, a little caution, especially in regards to the effects on children, is not misplaced here.

Even thought his isn't my neighborhood, and I likely will never be able to afford a house there, I feel like I need to take a stand against this project. St. Luke's had two years in which to try to work with the neighbors, and they kept the information hidden.  This project benefits very few people (mostly the church and Verizon), and third, it could make a beautiful area less beautiful and harm people and wildlife in the long term.

Let this be a lesson to all of us- being good neighbors is important to good relations and healthy communities, but it also can benefit all of us by protecting the many from the greed and ambition of a few.  Get involved in your community; be informed, and speak up when you see things that aren't right.  Your voice is valuable and stronger than you might think.  People consider silence consent and they will make decisions about your life, your property and your future without your input if they can.  Make it hard for them, so that if nothing else, you can say, "I tried".

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